[In the player above, watch previous FOX 8 News coverage of indictments on public corruption and civil rights violations against several East Cleveland police officers.]
Alfonzo Cole, 35, and Willie Sims, 32, each pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery and one count of theft in office for several offenses between July 2020 and July 2021, according to a news release from the office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley.
“It is an honor and a privilege to serve the public,” O’Malley is quoted in the release. “These officers took an oath to serve and protect the public and with their actions they violated that oath. The citizens of East Cleveland deserve better and today demonstrates that public corruption of any kind will not be tolerated in Cuyahoga County.”
Prosecutors alleged Cole and Sims stole more than $14,000 in cash and two firearms from six victims over the course of that year:
In July 2020, Sims responded to a gas station near Euclid and Shaw avenues, where a 52-year-old victim was having a verbal altercation with a woman in the parking lot. Sims spotted a gun in the victim’s car and searched it, taking $3,850.
In September 2020, Cole pulled over a 43-year-old victim near Euclid and Marloes avenues. During the stop, Cole took $850 in cash and about $400 worth of suspected marijuana from the car, then gave the victim a citation with Cole’s and an East Cleveland police sergeant’s signatures on it. Investigators later determined the sergeant was not at the scene of the stop, and that Cole forged had the sergeant’s signature.
In November 2020, Sims pulled over a 34-year-old victim on Paige Avenue, taking $1,300 from the car’s trunk.
In June 2021, Cole stopped a 26-year-old victim on Bender Avenue, taking $4,000 in cash from the car, suspected marijuana and a firearm.
That same day, Cole pulled over an 18-year-old on Noble Road. He asked the victim if he had a gun in the vehicle, then searched it, taking a firearm that belonged to the victim’s mother from under the seat, along with bullets found in its glove box.
In July 2021, Sims pulled over the same 43-year-old victim he robbed in September 2020, taking $781 and suspected marijuana edibles from their car.
That same day, Sims and Cole stopped a 21-year-old driver at a gas station near Euclid Avenue and Superior Road, taking $4,000 from the victim’s car. That victim reported the theft to the East Cleveland Police Department, which contacted the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies searched Cole’s home days later and found the guns stolen during the June 2021 traffic stops, as well as suspected marijuana edibles.
Neither have worked for the department since July 2021, officials previously said.
Cole also pleaded guilty in a separate case to single felony counts of having weapons while under disability and carrying concealed weapons.
Both are due for sentencing on their respective cases on Sept. 11.